Introduction: Card Stock Flying Dragon Paper Airplane
This little hand-launched dragon is great for indoors or a small park. It takes between 50 and 90 minutes to make. Some prior experience with paper crafting and gliders is recommended. It is small and light, so even small mistakes may result in poor flight. At its best, the dragon should fly gracefully for 30 to 40 feet.
-Two sheets of card stock (8.5" x 11", preferably 65 lb.)
-Small piece of chipboard, approx. 4" x 1.5"
-Large paper clip (preferably vinyl coated)
Step 1: Download and Print
Print or photocopy the plans onto card stock.
The documents are 7.5" x 10". Print at 100% scale.
I've included alternate plans that have no title, text, etc., for those that want to convert to a vector file.
Step 2: Cut Out the Pieces
Cut out all the pieces. Trace piece H onto chipboard and cut that out. If you used a piece of chipboard from packaging, lightly scrape or sand the glossy side of H to help the glue bond.
Step 3: Body, Wings, and Tail
Make creases at what will be the center line of the dragon, thereby defining the wings and tail stems from the body. Glue the strengthening pieces (chipboard and card stock) onto one half of the body. Apply more glue and complete the body with the second piece. Try to get them well aligned, and make sure the whole surface of both are bonded together. Glue the nose pieces to the sides of the head. Crease the v-tail on the center and to define the ruddervators. Apply glue to the tail stems and attach the tail.
Step 4: Brace the Wings
Crease the strengthening piece that goes on top of the wing. Glue it on. As the glue is drying, try to keep the wingtips about 15 degrees above level. Crease the braces that go under the wing and glue them in place.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Give the wings a slight undercamber by repeatedly pinching along the leading and trailing edges.
Check the dragon from all angles. Make sure there are no twists or warps. For example, when looking at it from the front, the wings should have identical silhouettes (or as near to identical as possible). Check the dragon from all sides, and make corrections as needed. It's a small and light craft, so minor imperfections will affect the flight significantly.
Always be gentle when correcting twists and warps. Repetition may be necessary, as the card stock will tend to return to its original position or shape.
Attach the paper clip.
Step 6: Flights and Adjustments
Conduct some test flights indoors. The ruddervators should be raised a couple of degrees. Throw the plane straight and level, with little force. Repeat, and throw as consistently as possible.
You can use the paper clip to influence the pitch (nose up or nose down) by sliding it forward or back a couple of millimeters. Make a little pencil mark on the side of the neck, once you've found a good position for it, so you can quickly position it after a crash. Of course, the ruddervators also influence pitch. If the dragon is nosing into the ground immediately after release, the ruddervators need to be raised. It's also possibly that the declination is off a little, in which case each stabilizer, as a whole, needs to be twisted forward.
You can use the little rudder (on the bottom fin) to influence the plane's yaw, but a tendency to turn left or right is likely due to a slight curve of the body. Check the body often to make sure it is as straight as possible
CAUTION! Plane may cause eye injury. Be careful when throwing it. If other people are around, allow a safe distance.